His body was slick with sweat, convulsing as his blood spilled down his throat into his chest. He was dying, he was dying he was dy-
The priestesses murmured prayers were drowned out from the whistling in his ears, the wet choking from his lips; the utter terror in his blood.
“Stop fighting, Tarus.” The teal eyed priestess’s smile was meant to be a comfort. It wasn’t. “Deep even breaths. It’ll be over soon.”
His wrists chafed against the binds on his wrists, on his wings. “Stop,” he gasped. “Please stop.”
“We’re helping you,” she said. “Your father just wants best for you. He wants to help you.”
That male wasn’t his father. He was someone who raised him out of love for his mother, not for him. White spots danced in front of his vision, lighting cracked against his fluttering eyelids, his voice little more than a strangled whisper, “Stop.”
Darkness greeted him.
Adrien’s arm around his throat summoned brutal memories he tried to shut down. His tawny forearm brushing the cords of scars that wrapped around Tarus’s neck, bringing about images of golden brown blood and he forced himself to maintain calm, to not let years of shutting down memories be forsaken; to not attack Adrien.
Sweat was slick across Tarus’s forehead and the sound of his own choking filled his ears. He felt Adrien’s eyes on him, a piercing look that told him he wasn’t hiding much from the shadowsinger.
Adrien tried to remove his arm from his shoulder, he held him in place. He breathed deeply, evenly, and let it go. “You need support,” his voice was thick, a small tremble in it. “You’re still weak.”
“No,” he tried pulling himself off. “It’s causing you pain. Let me walk on my own. Or at least lean fully on on Blake.”
He could feel the attention starting to shift to him and his weakness. “”It’s fine.” He forced his voice into a lightness that his body betrayed. “I’m fine.”
“No, you are not fine.” Blake’s brutal eyes were on him, assessing his weakness. “Let Adrien lean on me.”
He shook his head, “No, then you’ll be too vulnerable against attacks.”
The male, Zevakyn, turned around, his dark eyes were distraught, a frown tugged at his lips. “Let me take his place. Maze is too short to be able to support him. Let me help.”
Adrien and Blake’s shadows mingled around each other, their eyes showing traces of communication between them. Adrien nodded and turned to Zevakyn. “Okay.”
As soon as Adrien’s arm was off him, his lungs started to work with him, the palms of his hands sweaty, rested on his knees, forcing air into his lungs. “ Do you need to take a break, gather your wits?” The female.
Yes. “No, I’m fine.”
“Who did that to you?” Zevakyns voice was a razor blade of lethal calm. He looked up, meeting the male’s eyes, those dark spheres were merciless.
He shook his head, his hair sticking to his forehead, “Doesn’t matter.”
He felt the male reach down to his haunches, those dark eyes meeting his. Tarus kept his focus on the male’s eyes, distracting him from the memory that was pulling at him. The male’s voice was soothing. “That was then. This is now. You aren’t there, you’re safe, here with us.”
His lips twitched into a half smile, a bubble of laughter escaped him. “Safe is relative in the Blood Rite.” Zevakyn’s eyes lit up in surprise.
A crooked smile rested on the male’s lips, not quite reaching his eyes. “Can you continue?”
The knot of terror started to unravel in his stomach, the memories starting to fall back into the darkness of his mind. “Yes. I’m- I’m alright.” He straightened, looking between them all. “I apologize, I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”
“You don’t need to apologize.” Mazakynn’s eyes were soft with understanding, “Happens to the best of us. Try to remember you got out. It helps me.”
He wondered what kinds of images trapped her, she seems like nothing could pierce her armor. “I’ll remember that.”
She knew the look he had. Pure terror rested on his features, reliving some brutal memory. She had her own terrors when she closed her eyes. The brutality of her father and brother hit her with a force when she slept, locking her in cruel nightmares.
The days where the wrong touch or the wrong tone of voice triggered attacks. Those attacks she had, where only Adrien knew the worse of it. Him trying to pull her out of her own memories, but not knowing what they were.
She was a master of pretending she was okay, up until everything crashed down on her, bringing out her weakness in tremors and sweat and brutal memories.
She gave him a smile, “I hope so.”
Adrien’s eyes, always assessing, his shadows feeding him information about Tarus. His eyes were on the thick cord of scars at his neck, his lips were pursed. Knowing him, he was holding back information about Tarus. Whatever he was gleaming from him, he wasn’t happy. His eyes slid murderous. “He’ll get his, Tarus. I guarantee it.”
Tarus shook his head, “He thought he was doing what was best.”
“Doing what’s best? You have scars wrapped around your throat,” Zevakyn snarled. Maze blinked. She had never heard that tone from him, the sheer primalness of it. “No one deserves that.”
Tarus stared at him, the male’s golden eyes were intense. “Maybe not, but the past is in the past.”
Zevaykn’s eyes were darker than she had ever seen, his hair falling over his eyes., “It doesn’t matter when it happened. It’s the fact that it happened at all.”
Blake’s eyes were darting between the two, his eyebrows narrowed in thought. “Zevakyn’s right. But right now, we need to get out of here. Can you continue, Tarus?”
Tarus’s eyes were trained on Zev. “Yes. Let’s go.”
Zev took Adrien’s arm around his shoulder, taking part of his weight on to him. Tarus led and they followed. The sheer panic that were in the male’s eyes, trapped in some memory that he didn’t know.
Adriens arm was tense around his neck and he knew it was because he no longer trusted him. Keeping secrets, especially secrets such as killing five males as brutally as he did, he supposed he deserved Adrien’s ire. It made sense really. Trust is what got him nearly killed.
But the viciousness that came out of his own throat, when speaking to Tarus, he wasn’t expecting such a tone from himself. But those scars flashed the severed neck of Chelia in his mind and he forgot where he was. And that buried bloodlust rose to the surface, demanding the blood of the male who would do such a thing.
The blinding panic in Tarus’ eyes undid him in a way he wasn’t sure of. And he didn’t even know the male. But he did know that he didn’t want to see that panic there again.
“Nate and Bay are around the corner,” Adrien said after awhile.
He didn’t doubt him. Adrien had a way of knowing where almost everything was, knew almost everything about everything. Perhaps not knowing about Chelia bit into his pride a bit.
Nate and Bay appeared and a knot loosened from his stomach. Bay was alright, the invisible weight from his shoulders had lightened, a light was in his eyes. Zev found himself smiling at the closeness between the two males.
Adrien straightened his head, glancing between Bay and his brother, his shadows were telling him such interesting things about the two. Nate frowned, “Are you alright?”
“Oh you know,” he forced lightness. “Just another day in the Blood Rite.”
Maze barrelled out from behind him, hugging Bay. She smacked the male’s chest. “You bastard. The next time you decide to split apart from the group do me a favor and don’t.”
He glared down at her, pausing at the scar on her face. “Who did that to you?”
She rolled her eyes, “No one you need to concern your pretty head with.”
Nate cocked his head, “It is pretty, isn’t it?”
Bay’s ears reddened and Blake choked on laughter, earning a glare from Bay and a lazy grin from Nate. Bay cleared his throat, turning to Adrien’s wings, his face pale. “Is he dead?”
Maze nodded, “Cyrian killed him.”
Nate’s eyebrows hit his hairline, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that? The same Cyrian who Adrien hates more than anything in this world? That Cyrian?”
Adrien glared at his brother, “Yes. That Cyrian.”
A low whistle came from his brother, “That has to be a blow to your pride, huh Adrien?”
“If I wasn’t close to losing my wings I’d end you.”
Nate stuck his tongue out at him. Bay sighed, “If this is what it’s like having siblings, I can’t wait until Aysel is grown.”
Nate snorted, leaning into Bay, “Nah. She’s Cassian’s kid. It’ll be worse.”
The smile on Bay’s face faultered as he narrowed his eyes at Tarus, assessing him. Nate nudged him, “Come on, Baylor. It’s the Blood Rite, were supposed to kill each other.” Nate sighed, “Tarus, are you still planning on killing me?”
“See there you go, problem solved.” Nate slung his arm around Bay’s neck, “let’s get out of here and so I can eat.”
Adrien snorted. Nate looked over his shoulders at him, “Careful, Ade. Or I’ll eat that fat head of yours.”
Bay looked harder at Tarus. The male was awfully pale and Zev’s eyes were full of worry and something else. Blake and Adrien seemed to trust the male so he said, “Clean slate?”
The male nodded, almost relieved. “Yes.”
Nate smiled, “Look at Baylor being the bigger male.” he elbowed him. “I’m so proud of you.”
Bay rolled his eyes and gave Tarus one of his weapons. “Call me Bay.”
Heres the next part! Please, please leave a comment XO
She could feel Adrien’s eyes on her, his lips mouthing numbers, counting each freckle she had. She kept her focus on the wound rounding his side. It was so deep, nearly to his ribs. He sucked in a breath as she ran the water through it one last time. “What number are you at?” Distract him from the pain.
She looked up at him, some of the pain starting to ebb away from his eyes, the tawny color starting to return back to his features. There was still that bone deep fear for his wings.“twenty-three. There’s a total of sixty-four. On your face at least.”
She rose a brow, “Do you make it a habit of counting everything?”
A glimmer cut through the pain in his hazel-gold eyes. “Just your freckles.”
She scrunched up her nose, “That’s so sappy.” Adrien’s lips twitched.
Cyrian snorted behind them, “You are so whipped, Adrien. It’s pathetic.”
Zev nudged him, “Don’t be a dick.”
Cyrian glared at him, “if you do that again I’m taking off your arm. Then your head.”
Zev rose his brows, holding up his hands, “Sorry.”
“You boys are stupid.” She finished the bandaging. “Try not to undo my work.”
Cyrian rolled his own eyes, “People are coming. Two of them.”
Adrien struggled, trying to sit further up. “Don’t move,” she snapped. “You’ll rip open your wound again. You need to heal.”
He glared at her, “It’s Blake and that Tarus male.”
She stiffened. “The Dawn Court male?” His blood, it could save Adrien’s wings.
“Yes.” he tried to straighten again.
“Damn it, Adrien. I told you to not move!” She stood. “I’m going to go find them.” She turned to Zev. “Make sure he doesn’t move.” She looked back down at Adrien. “Don’t make me kick your ass for ruining my bandages. It wouldn’t be a fair fight.”
“Zevakyn isn’t my keeper,” Adrien muttered. “I’m coming with you.”
Zev lowered down to his haunches, meeting his eyes. “I suggest you do what the lady said, Adrien.”
Her boyfriend glared at him; she rolled her eyes. “If your idiocy is coming back, you must be healing.” She looked at Cyrian, his face impassive. “Keep guard. I’ll be back.”
He rose a brow, “Are you giving me orders?”
She rolled her eyes and walked away. She knew he’d do it. “I’ll be back.”
Zevakyn kept Adrien from moving any further. “You’ll open your wounds. Stay still until she gets back.” He could hear her footsteps getting quieter and quieter. His heart flipped. Harboring feelings for Mazakynn stressed him out.
Adrien tried getting back up, pain sliced through his face. “I need to follow her to make sure she stays okay.”
“You are in no shape to fight, Friend.” He warned, “I will force you to stay down.”
Adrien bared his teeth, “I’d like to see you try.”
“A five year old could kick your ass, Ade.” Cyrian said lightly, “But if you want to get yourself killed or completely ruin your wings, we won’t stop you,”
He sighed, “I’ll stop you.” He glared at the male, “You are not a good friend, Cyrian.”
Cyrian shrugged. “I don’t have friends.”
“No? Then what do you call you and Maze’s relationship?”
Adrien growled, trying to get back up. “He was kidding, Adrien.” He wasn’t kidding and an unwelcome pang of jealousy wormed its way through him. “Stay down.” Adrien glared at him but stayed to the ground. “Focus on your breathing.” The wound at his side was deep enough, it had to hurt like hell.
Cyrian shrugged. “Was I?”
He glared at him. “You are not helping.”
“What gave it away?” Cyrian smiled down at Adrien. “If it helps it happened when you weren’t together.” he shrugged.Zev sighed, his eyes cast heavenward. Cyrian continued, “You know that thing she does with her teeth?” He smirked, “She learned that from me.”
World ending fury contorted in Adrien’s face and Zev was on top of him, holding him down; careful of his wings and wounds. “Adrien, you are going to destroy your wings beyond use. You need to wait until Tarus gets here to heal your wings before you kill him. You will die in the progress otherwise.”
Adrien growled beneath him and Zev held him down. If he wasn’t larger than him and Adrien was fully healed…he’d be dead. Very, very dead.
He grunted, “Think. About. Your wings.”
He stiffened beneath Zevakyn. His wings. Would he be an Illyrian without them? Would he even be a male without them? He let loose a breath, trying to calm himself down. Tarus would heal his wings. They’ll be okay and then he could kill Cyrian for talking about Maze like that. All he needed was Tarus to heal them and everything will be okay.
Cyrian quirked a brow. “Right now, you’re wishing you were on top of Maze and not her idiot boyfriend, don’t you, Zevakyn?”
He tried to not react, he knew about Zev’s feelings for his girlfriend. He was a Shadowsinger after all, one of the best. It didn’t help his case with the smiles that he gave Maze but he knew that Zev wouldn’t make a move. One couldn’t help their own feelings. Still, that primal part of him that told him that Maze was his tried to worm its way through his brain. HIs own instincts irritated the fuck out of him.
Zevakyn glared up at the male, his voice a warning. “Shut up, Cyrian.”
“‘Shut up Cyrian.’” he mocked. “Got any other sage words of advice? Perhaps some pointers on how to deal with being in love with your best friend’s girl?”
He’s baiting you, Adrien, he thought. Think about your wings.
“I know that you are angry and in grief over Tania, Cyrian. But if you don’t stop, I will kill you before Adrien gets the chance.” Adrien glared up at Zevakyn, trying to get out from beneath him. If anyone was killing that prick, it was him.
“Say her name again and I will take your head off your shoulders.” He smirked, “Big words though, think you can back them up?”
Shadows formed over Zevakyn’s face. His voice was almost a whisper. “You hear about the warrior who got thrown out of his camp for slaughtering five males because killed his female? The male that can no longer step foot in that camp without forfeiting his life because one of the males he killed was the camp lord’s son? That was me, Cyrian Inferos. I will make that look like child’s play if you don’t shut up.”
Blood drained from Adrien’s face. He knew that story. A warrior found his girl dead in the woods surrounding the camp and he snapped, brutally killing each male who touched her. And one of those males was the camp lord’s son. A viciously cruel male who made Cyrian look kind. He just didn’t realize that it was Zevakyn.
Zev got off him, his eyes giving him a firm warning to not get up; to not let his injuries get any worse. His wounds were still healing, a wrong move would rip them open. It was that fear that kept him on the ground, near defenseless, at Cyrian’s mercy. His own stupidity put him there. He would kill him without blinking.
Cyrian rose a brow, “You? That was you? So much for being such a nice guy. You’re the most brutal of us all. Well, next to me that is. Congratulations.” Adrien rolled his eyes, trying to not wince at the pain in the back of his head.
“It’s not something to be proud of. I don’t enjoy killing people,” Zevakyn said quietly. “I would have been dead for killing the Camp Lord’s son but the High Lord and his mate took pity on me for why I did it. So he stripped my ranking and sent me to your camp.”
“What was your ranking?” He asked, “why go after your girl?”
“I was ranked higher than the Camp Lord’s son. He wanted me punished for being ranked first in that camp. He went after Chelia. She wasn’t a fighter, she wasn’t able to fly even. Her wings were clipped. She was unusually kind, always picking flowers, singing songs, bandaging my wounds and scolding me for being stupid.” Zev shook his head. “They took her from me so I took their lives.” Cyrian went quiet and the only sound that could be heard was that incessant dripping.
Karis’s near-feral grin welcomed cheering from the males; Bay wasn’t surprised when six other males began to surround him. After all, his ranking and as Cassian’s ward, they thought his death would win them glory. He leveled a look at Karis, “Can’t kill the faggot yourself?”
His ear twitched as a male attacked from behind. He kicked a male in front of him square in the chest, the sound of cracked ribs filled the space; the male fell backwards. Kicking backwards the male behind him fell to the ground. He bent backwards, narrowly missing another male’s weapon. He ducked low, striking the male next to him in the gut. He righted himself as another male behind him came at him. His elbow met the male’s stomach.
As the male doubled over he wrapped his arm around the male’s neck flinging him over his shoulder into a male that was getting ready to strike him. Another male struck with a weapon, Bay bent backwards missing the weapon which would have ended in his throat. He stomped on the male’s foot, the male lurched forward, Bay’s knee crushed the male’s nose.
A fist landed on Bay’s cheek, blood welled. Bay swung forward, his own fist connecting to the male’s mouth, breaking a few teeth. The male staggered backwards. Bodies littered around him, leaving just him and Karis and the smart males who didn’t fight him. “Let’s get this over with, Karis. I need to find my friends.”
His reaction timing was slowed as he caught his breath. Karis launched himself at him. The male’s knee sent a wave of pain through his ribs. Bay fell back a few steps before he punched forward hitting Karis in the jaw. “You needed your lackeys to wear me down before you tried to kill me.” He shook his head, “That’s pathetic.”
“You had an unfair advantage with the Commander raising you.”
“And you had parents to go home to,” Bay said. “Cassian taught you as much as he taught me. I just took it more seriously than you did.”
Karis’ eyes hardened. “You lived with him.”
“He didn’t give me an advantage over anyone else. He wanted me to earn my rank as he did. And that’s what I did.” he punched Karis in the throat; He wheezed. “I earned my rank. Just as you earned your death.” he brought his knee up to Karis’ groin. The male stumbled backwards and Bay’s foot connected with his nose, breaking it hard enough he knew the cartilage would cause internal bleeding and rupture the brain. Karis crumbled to the ground, his eyes filled with pain, blood flowed from his nose and lips.
Karis coughed up blood so dark it was near black, “Please.”
“You made my life hell since I was six years old. Stole my clothes, broke my bones, hurt my friends.” He tried to hurt Maze before she became a better fighter; Cornered him, before he bulked up enough to defend himself, and broke his arm, bruised his ribs, forcing him to have Ash heal him before Cassian found out.“Right now blood is swelling your brain as your healing tries to work in overdrive to save your hateful homophobic ass. You are basically dead already.” Better to put him out of his misery. He broke the male’s neck, Karis’ body went limp in his hands. Pure silence rang out.
He wiped the blood off him and looked at the few remaining males surrounding him. Their eyes were wide, faces were pale. A few of them had glares promising death. “Do I need to keep proving myself? Or have you realized that I earned my place?”
The males were quiet and he stared them each down, wiping the blood from his cheek, and went after Nate.
Blake stiffened, “Someone is coming.” he let loose a breath. “It’s just Maze.”
Tarus took in the small female. Her dark hair was matted down with blood and sweat, her the amber in her eyes were filled with an anger he knew all too well but they were also filled with fear and worry. “You’re from the Dawn Court, your blood isn’t magic, will you help Adrien. That’s why you’re with Blake right? To help him?”
He had a feeling that Mazakynn wasn’t prone to relying on others for help. “I know about his wings. I can’t heal those-” her eyes widened. “But I can keep the infection at bay until we get out of the mountain tomorrow. And I can close his wounds so he could walk. He’ll still be weak and in pain but he’ll live. As for his wings….I’m sorry.” He wasn’t like Aurora with pure healing blood. He has a half breed, his blood diluted due to his mixed heritage.
She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, he knew she was holding back tears. “Ezekiel got off too easy. Hopefully we can get back to Adrien before he and Cyrian try to kill each other.”
“Told you I’d be fine.”
Nate looked up, Baylor’s face was bleeding and he winced when he breathed but other than that, he appeared fine. The knot of anxiety started to unravel itself. He rose his brows. “Karis actually got a hit in? You are losing your touch.”
Baylor crossed his arms, “Six other males decided to join the fight.”
Uh huh. “I told you Karis fought dirty.”
Baylor snorted, “Well, he won’t be fighting dirty anymore. Neither will they.”
“Is it bad that I find that attractive?”
Baylor rose his brows, his ears turned red. “I-”
He shook his head, “Rendered speechless and I didn’t even have to try.”
Baylor glared at him, clearing his throat. “Any sign of Adrien? What do your shadows say?”
Nate shook his head, “He’s nowhere near here. Blake and Tarus are closing in on him. We should be able to meet up with them in a few hours and get out of here together.”
“Right on time.”
Nate sighed, “Thank the Cauldron. Right now I’d kill for a decent meal. And for my wings to be free. But really, I’ve been tasting apples in my mouth for the past two days. I need to eat.”
They continued down the corridor, stepping over bodies.
“Are you ever not eating?”
“Sure,” Nate said. “When I’m with cute boys with messy hair and glasses. And freckles, I love freckles. Almost as much as I enjoy food.”
Baylor snorted, “Come on. We need to get you food before your stomach starts feeding on your brain. Then you’ll be as useless as you are pretty.”
Nate tipped his head back and laughed, “you’re so cute when you’re nice to me.”
He laughed despite the redness in his ears, “And when I’m not nice?”
“Considering that’s all the time,” He wrapped his arm around Baylor’s shoulder, “Hot as fuck.”
Here’s the next part! I took inspiration from a scene with Jason Statham in…Transporters I believe for the fight scene with Karis. I hope it turned out alright. Fighting scenes are hard to write. Ugh.
Tarus stared at the inkwells and the needles beside them. His eyes dragged to the artist touching the stranger’s neck, the needle, the pinpricks of blood that ran as the artist tattooed the night court insignia to the male’s skin. He could do this. He could sit for hours and let the male tattoo his skin. Let the male touch him. Let the male- No. No he couldn’t. He couldn’t. He couldn’t-
He flinched at his name, pulling himself from the growing turmoil in his blood. He turned to the voice. Zevakyn’s head was cocked, his dark hair hanging loose over his eyes. solid deep brown filled with a painful kindness that made his heart beat faster and his mind run clear. “Sorry, got lost in thought.” The lie came out smooth as silk.
A crooked grin rested easily on the male’s face, not quite reaching his eyes; hands in his pockets. “What are you thinking about? Where to get your tattoo at?”
He thought he would be dead and not have to get one. He planned to let himself be killed by Azriel or the rest of Blake’s family. But they didn’t kill him. They did the exact opposite and welcomed him and now he would have to get a tattoo and let the tattooer touch him and ink him and the thought had panic wrapped around his throat into a chokehold.
He cleared his throat. “Something like that.”
“Tarus, you’re next,” one of the tattooers said.
He closed his eyes briefly before reopening them. Zevakyn had disappeared. “Okay. I’m coming.”